Third Phase of Liberty Gardens work nears completion

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The three-phase renovation of Liberty Gardens on North Levitt Street will be completed this winter. The massive effort to renovate apartments, as well as remove some and replace them with new housing has put a new face on the 180-unit complex.

Public and private partners gathered at the complex for a flag-raising ceremony Tuesday celebrating “the redevelopment of a distressed public housing project into 180 quality affordable homes for working families, as well as a new 6,000 square-foot facility that strengthens the community by hosting educational programs and events, and includes a computer lab,” noted Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a prepared press release.

“Liberty Garden Apartments is a truly innovative development that will provide safe, decent and affordable housing for families in the City of Rome,” Cuomo said. “Working hand-in-hand with our partners in both the private and the public sectors, we invested in a project that integrates housing with education and recreation – and will make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

This is the first substantial renovation of Liberty Garden Apartments in its 62-year history. The structure, originally constructed in 1952 under the New York State Public Housing Program, is comprised of eight brick buildings constructed in a garden apartment configuration and over the years, the heating system, insulation, kitchens and baths within the apartments had become functionally obsolete.

The project was partially funded by $33.6 million in equity raised through federal and state Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The project is also supported by the Community Preservation Corp., Federal Home Loan Bank and the New York Energy Research and Development Authority. The project was developed by Omni Housing Development and the Rome Housing Authority.

Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council Co-chairs Lawrence T. Gilroy, president of Gilroy, Kernan and Gilroy, and Bjong Wolf Yeigh, president of SUNYIT, said, “The redevelopment of Liberty Garden Apartments is symbolic of what is happening across the Mohawk Valley – a growing regional economy undergoing a 21st century transformation.”

Phase One of the reconstruction began in 2012 and was completed in 2013. Phase One rehabilitated three buildings and constructed six new buildings to create 78 family apartments, as well as constructed the 6,000 square foot Edward Core Community Center. Phase Two — supported by $1,068,000 from the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council — was the rehabilitation of three buildings to create 50 apartment units. Phase Three includes the rehabilitation of two buildings and the construction of three buildings to create 52 apartments. Phase Three is more than 75 percent complete.

Mayor Joseph Fusco Jr. said he enjoyed watching the transformation of his old neighborhood. “It is very exciting to see the remarkable changes that the Omni Housing Development has given us. I look forward to the long awaited completion of the project. This project signifies a stepping stone in the right direction for housing development.”

“The Liberty Garden project is not only good for our community, but for future generations. Students at Gansevoort Elementary School are given the pleasure of new and refurbished playground equipment and recreational courts. The students have the ability to flourish and continue a positive upbringing within our community,” the Rome mayor added.

State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, said, “The Liberty Garden rehabilitation project is a great example of a community coming together to serve its people. Oneida County recognized a need for existing affordable housing to be rehabilitated and found willing participants in the Rome Housing Authority and the City of Rome. Local banks joined legislators in working with Gov. Cuomo and the REDC to ensure the project secured state funding, while developers and contractors saw the project through from inception to completion.”

“The result is units that are energy efficient, Wi-Fi enabled and modernized to accommodate disabled individuals and low-income families,” Griffo said. “Its proximity to the city business district and its nearby bus stop makes it an ideal location for working women and men. I’m pleased that this important workforce housing has been brought into the 21st century instead of being left to deteriorate.”

“Liberty Garden Apartments is now everything that a quality, affordable housing complex should be, providing safe, modern apartments in a neighborhood setting,” said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-119, Utica. “This project is worth celebrating today, because it will significantly boost the quality of rental housing in the City of Rome for decades to come.”

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. said, “Transforming our neighborhoods with new affordable housing is a significant step in economic revitalization.”

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